Guide to the David Brainerd Spooner Papers M0011

Department of Special Collections and University Archives
1999 ; revised 2017
Green Library
557 Escondido Mall
Stanford 94305-6064

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Title: David Brainerd Spooner Papers
creator: Spooner, D. Brainerd (David Brainerd)
Identifier/Call Number: M0011
Physical Description: 5.5 Linear Feet 11 boxes, plus oversize material
Date (inclusive): 1899-1925

Biographical / Historical

David Brainard Spooner was born at South Vernon, Vermont, February 7, 1879. Educated at Stanford University, AB 1899, then taught in Japan at the Prefectural College of Omi at Oatsu. Later he taught at the School of Foreign languages, Tokyo, and then at the Imperial University. He was the first foreigner to graduate from the Imperial University with an Lit.D. Attended the British Government College at Benares, 1901-02 and the Sanskrit College in Benares, 1902-03. He was attached to the Siamese Legation at one time. Granted a fellowship by Harvard and was awarded a Ph.D. from King Frederick William University in Berlin, 1906.
Spooner went to India prior to 1908 as a member of the British Archaeological Survey. In 1910 he is credited with discovering the remains of Buddha near Peshawar, India. In 1915 Spooner married Elizabeth Colton of Easthampton, Mass. He became head of the British Archaeological Survey and did considerable work and writing in archaeology, Indian religion, Indian History, languages, and linguistics. Spooner died at Agra, India, Jan. 30, 1925, and is buried there.
(For a more complete biography see Spooner Correspondence File)

Scope and Contents

The Spooner Papers contain D. B. Spooner's correspondence from 1899 to 1922. The bulk of the correspondence was written between 1915 and 1918. The collection also includes manuscript, typescript, and printed copies of articles by D. B. Spooner. There are many manuscript and typescript language notebooks and studies. Also included are booklets in foreign languages and a large section of personal memorabilia.
Spooner's primary work was concerned with Indian Archaeology and Indian Religion. Of secondary importance are his works concerning Indian History and various language studies.

Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], David Brainerd Spooner Papers (M0011), Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


Gift of Mrs. Lawrence E. Norem, 1959.

Publication Rights

While Special Collections is the owner of the physical and digital items, permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Any transmission or reproduction beyond that allowed by fair use requires permission from the owners of rights, heir(s) or assigns.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research. Note that material must be requested at least 36 hours in advance of intended use.

Separated Materials

Much of the published material (articles, reprints, booklets, etc.) have been transferred to the library's general catalog. Eight photographs of Stanford University were transferred to University Archives.


Folders were numbered consecutively across boxes.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

India -- Antiquities
Buddhism -- Study and teaching
India -- Languages
Asia -- History
Spooner, D. Brainerd (David Brainerd)


Series 1. Correspondence


Subseries 1.1 : Letters of D. B. Spooner Feb.1899 - Jan. 1922

Arrangement note

arranged chronologically
box 1

Outgoing Feb. 1899 - Dec. 1916

Physical Description: 27 Folders
box 2, folder 28 - 44

Outgoing Jan. 1917 - Jan. 1922


Subseries 1.2 : Letters concerning D. B. Spooner, letter notes, letter fragments

box 2, folder 45

Outgoing letter fragments

box 2, folder 46

Miscellaneous letter notes

box 2, folder 47

Letters concerning D. B. Spooner

box 2, folder 48-52

Subseries 1.3 : Letters to D. B. Spooner

Arrangement note

Arranged alphabetically by author and chronologically under each.

Series 2. Articles and Poems

box 3, folder 53

Subseries 2.1 : Distribution List for Spooner Articles

box 3, folder 54-93

Subseries 2.2 : Articles arranged alphabetically by title


The American Boarding School


Analytical Index to the Legends and Devices on Indian Seals


A Critical Study of Mallinatha's Commentary on the Meghadula


The Bodh Gaya Plaque


Bricks in India


The Buddha Relics in Japan


Buddhism and Parseeism


The Charbinda


The Dasyavah of Behar


The Dedarganu Image now in Patna Museum


The Discovery of Kanishka's Vihara


The Field of Indian Archaeology


The Fravashi of Gautama


The Hindu Saturnalia


Indian Archaeology


Indian Linguistics


The Indian Reform Scheme in


Its Relations


The Indira of Bankim Chandra


The Iranian Element in Ancient India


The Iranian Element in Early India


The Kiratarjuniya of Bharavi Magh Mela


Merv and Meru


Mauna, Mauni and Maunindra


The Mrigadava at Sarnath


On a Houseboat in Kashmir


Origin of Indian Art


A Plea for the Bandit


Quaint Stories from the Japanese


Reply to Professor Keith


Review of the Household Troops


Short Discription of work in India


Short Guide to the Archaeological Galleries in the Indian Museum, Calcutta


Some English Speaking Birds in India


Stanford University


Mr. Tatan Tata's Excavations at Pataliputra


The Triarchic Faith


Varieties of the Visnu Image


Vedic Notes


Who Were the Prasioi?


Subseries 2.3 : Fragments of articles, notes on books, poems

box 4-5, folder 94 - 107

Fragments and single pages of articles by D. B. Spooner

box 4-5, folder 108

Gazatteer Appendix to the Index

box 4-5, folder 109 - 111

Notes on Books

box 4-5, folder 112 - 123



Series 3. Research Material


Subseries 3.1 : Notebooks and typescript copies of Spooner's works on Buddhism and Indian Religion

box 5

Four notebooks with typescript annotated by hand on “Gautama the Archi-Magus”

box 5

Two sheafs of typescript on “Gautama the Archi-Magus”

box 6

Selections from the Poet Hali, Pearls and Cowrie Shells (poems by D. B. Spooner), Kiratarjuniya of Bharavi (prose translation and blank verse) manuscript, Manuscript Register of Dated Indian Images, Dr. Lee's Career by Miles Chapin

box 7

Three notebooks typescript and manuscript entitled “The Gods of Hindustan”


Subseries 3.2 : Notebooks, also typescript copies of Zoroastrian Period of Indian History

box 7, folder 124

Manuscript on Zoroastrian Period of Indian History

box 7, folder 125

Manuscript on Zoroastrian Period of Indian History

box 7, folder 126

Temple Types in Tirhut


Subseries 3.3 : Research materials in notebooks

box 8

Manuscript copies of a chronological history of India


Subseries 3.4 : Notebooks and studies of Asian Languages, booklets in various languages

box 9

Language Notebooks

Scope and Contents note

Six notebooks and two folders containing smaller notebooks on Asian, especially Indian languages
box 10

Language Study Notes

box 10, folder 129-133

Studies of Asian languages

box 10, folder 134

Booklets in Japanese

box 10, folder 135-137

Booklets and Documents in Indian Languages

box 10, folder 138

Register of Chinese Characters as Used by the Japanese


Series 4. Newspaper Clippings

Scope and Contents note

Large scrapbook filled with clippings. Also loose clippings in the front of the scrapbook.
box 10


Scope and Contents note

Scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings. Most clippings pertain to the discovery of the remains of Buddha

Series 5. Memorabilia

box 11

Subseries 5.1 : Personal papers and documents of D. B. Spooner and Mrs. D. B. Spooner. Memorabilia

Scope and Contents note

Personal Papers and documents of D. B. Spooner and Mrs. Spooner. Diaries of Spooner which were kept while he was at Stanford and while he was in Japan. Container consists of folders 139-155

Subseries 5.2 : Buddhist Sermon, Chinese Scroll

box 11, folder 156

Satipatthana Buddha's Sermon on Meditation written on wooden strips


Framed picture of D. B. Spooner. Framed picture of Ronald Shay?

box 11, folder 157

Burmese horoscope (jātā) manuscript recording the birth of a son in 1879, incised on palm leaf 1879

box 11, folder 158

Chinese scroll, rolled, contains writing in Chinese


Subseries 5.3 : Photographs of Japan and India

Physical Location: Oversize material has not been assigned box and folder numbers. Contact department for access details.

Photographs of Japan and Japanese students


Photographs of Indian archaeological remains, religious edifices, D. B. Spooner, Mrs. Spooner, and various collegues of D. B. Spooner


Oversized photos of Japan and India. One photo of the Dali Lama holding the casket containing the remains of Buddha

Physical Location: This container is stored in file case for oversized material.

Subseries 5.4 : Chinese Scroll

Physical Location: Oversize material has not been assigned box and folder numbers. Contact department for access details.

Chinese Scroll

Physical Location: This scroll is filed in the case for oversized material.